Study Tips

Effective studying starts with knowing what you want to study and when.

Organized by Meghan Jain

Plan to Study

Plan out IN ADVANCE when (and where) you will be doing your studying, and what you will be working on during each time slot. Schedule time to work on each of the study tips below. For more information on creating a semester plan and setting up a schedule, see our Time Management page.

  • Effective studying

    There are three steps to effective studying:

    1. Learning
    2. Reviewing
    3. Practicing

    The first step is learning

    • This involves doing the readings beforehand and coming up with questions, going to class, listening and taking notes, and listening for cues
      • Cues include recurring themes, details or terms written on the board
      • Also listen for phrases like “this is important,” “remember this,” “this is key,” or “this will be on the exam”
    • Take active notes during class

    The second step is reviewing

    • Review your class notes and readings at least once a week or more
      • This will help you to refresh the information, digest it, and think of any questions you may have
      • It will also help you to pick up on any recurring themes of the course
    • Make study guides and outlines
      • This will help you to synthesize all of the notes from class and the readings
      • Do this before the upcoming exam to make sure you have a grasp on ALL the material
    • Develop questions as a way to both explore what you know and fill possible holes in your knowledge

    The third step is practicing

    • Quiz yourself!
      • Using your study guide you've created in step 2, you can quiz yourself on the main concepts you have outlined in your study guide to make sure you have a firm grasp on the material
      • You can also create flashcards or a Quizlet to test your knowledge
    • Create learning goals for when you study and check them off as they are achieved

    Modify these steps for all your courses

    • The above three steps can also be used for discussion or essay based courses
    • Coming to class prepared is especially important for classes with a class participation grade, as your contribution to the discussion and questions you raise about the texts will directly impact your final grade
    • Additionally, instead of using your study guides to prepare for exams, you can use them for outlining your essay
  • Daily upkeep
    • Before class, preview topics from the upcoming class and review notes from the previous class
    • GO TO CLASS!
      • Set alerts/reminders in your phone or calendar that will notify you ~15 minutes before class
    • Attend office hours, TA sessions, review sessions, etc.
      • Put them in your calendar so you know when they are scheduled each week
  • Make a study guide
    • Use important material from notes, slides, readings, homeworks, handouts, etc.
    • When making your study guide, take note of the topics that you are, and are not, familiar with
      • Create questions for office hours
      • Determine which topics you will need to allocate the most time for studying
    • Learn about your learning preference to help you make a relevant study guide; the VARK is a free tool for students to help you understand how you learn:
  • Start “officially” studying a week in advance
    • Arrange a reminder a week before an exam; do whatever you have to do to remember!
      • Set an alert in your phone or on your computer
      • Write a note in your calendar
      • Leave a post-it on your door
    • Aim to have your study guide complete with at least 5 days to review it before the exam
  • Effective flashcards
    Don’t just rely on rote memorization!
    • Pick out two flashcards and compare and contrast those two concepts
    • Test yourself by coming up with examples for each concept on a flashcard
    • You can use flashcards to create meaningful categories and compare concepts
    • You can use flashcards to demonstrate different steps in a process or mechanism and task yourself with putting them in the right order and narrating the process
  • Effective study groups
    • Set a time and make a plan
      • Talk in advance about what you, as a group, want to cover so that you can work toward specific goals
      • A specific plan can help prevent your study group from turning into a social hour
    • Set expectations for preparedness
      • A study group should occur after each individual has already done some review on their own
      • Make expectations clear in advance of where people should be in their studying before convening
    • Pick an effective study space
    • Give one person the task of keeping the group on track
      • It is great to study with friends, but try to save off topic chatting for breaks (which are also a part of productive studying)
      • Take turns being the "time keeper" and be respectful when that person reminds others that the conversation is getting off topic
    • Study by having a mock class where you “teach” each other the concepts
      • Listeners get to review information, ask clarifying questions, and challenge the speaker if they are unclear on the topic
      • Speakers learn what information they are missing or do not know as well
  • Resources
    • Office hours should always be your first stop!
      • Whether you meet with the professor or a TA, office hours is going to be the place where you can get the most class-specific information
      • Regular visits to office hours are extremely helpful when you’re preparing for a cumulative final
      • Don’t be afraid to take notes during office hours or bring your class notes and mark them up with a different color
    • Student Academic Resources has also organized a list of other available Wesleyan resources related to studying and understanding course material for your reference
    • If you’re finding that you need more help with academic skills (such as time management, planning your studying, organization, or anything really), you can reach out to a peer advisor by email at peeradvisors@wesleyan.edu anytime